A. B. Frost illustration turns up at Renninger's Extravaganza
Oil on artist's board, 12 x 18", ca. 1902-04
A. B. Frost, date unknown
A Book of Drawings by A. B. Frost, 1904
photographic reproduction of painting, 1902
Arthur Burdett Frost was one of the pre-eminent illustrators of the so-called Golden Age of American Illustration. (1880-1920). Although largely self-taught, he studied briefly under Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and William Merritt Chase at the Shinnecock summer school; the latter deemed him a genius. During his long career, Frost illustrated close to 100 books and worked prolifically for the leading American magazines and newspapers, including Harper’s Weekly, Life, Collier’s Weekly, and Century. He was a member of the Tile Club and the Society of Illustrators. He is represented in many museums, including the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Shelburne Museum, National Gallery, New Britain Museum of American Art, New-York Historical Society, Parrish Art Museum, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Brandywine River Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Princeton University Art Museum.
This oil on artist's board is a rarity as most of Frost's work was done in pen-and-ink or watercolor on paper. Few oils are known. It turned up in 2017 at the Renninger's Kutztown Extravaganza. The dealer knew it was by Frost but hadn't the time or inclination to research its rarity or value. My expertise with American illustration and proclivity toward detective work led to a singular discovery: the painting had been published at least three times, albeit in watercolor format. It is not known why Frost also produced the painting in oil. Perhaps since the watercolor was owned by Collier's, he liked the image and wanted his own copy of it. There are slight differences between watercolor and oil; most notably the bottom edge which is devoted to floor boards, extends down more in the oil.
1. Centerfold for Collier’s Illustrated Weekly December 20, 1902, Vol. 30, no. 12, pp. 11-12? N. B. The composition of the oil is slightly different/larger than the illustration, this is evident if you look at the signature and lower right corner where the boxes come up to the border of the image, whereas they extend further in the painting.
2-3. Reproduced as a full-page illustration with related poem on opposing page in Wallace Irwin, A Book of Drawings by A. B. Frost, 1904 (np) This book had at least two editions; one was published by Collier’s and the other, Fox & Duffield.